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article imagePula Airport in Croatia posts best July figures in 18 years

By Paul Bradbury     Aug 8, 2014 in Travel
Pula - Despite the sharp decline of Russian visitors due to post-EU visa requirements, Pula Airport arrivals in July show a sharp increase.
Official figures for arrivals through the Istrian airport of Pula in Croatia on August 8, 2014, showed a sharp increase for the month of July, according to local media reports, with the 94,656 passengers who travelled contributing to an 18-year high at the airport, despite a severe reduction in tourists from the main Russian market.
In an interview with Digital Journal earlier this year, Pula Airport director Svemir Radmilo explained that some 40% of passengers prior to Croatia's entry to the EU had been Russian, a number that has seen a sharp decline with the post-EU requirement for Russian visitors to obtain visas for Croatia.
Pula Airport arranged Irish dancing to welcome the first passengers from Dublin. The Irish carrier h...
Pula Airport arranged Irish dancing to welcome the first passengers from Dublin. The Irish carrier has now extended its contract by another month after enjoying considerable success with the route.
Airport Pula
"The effect on our tourism was immediate. Prior to joining Europe, 40% of our arrivals were from Russia, and the new visa rules for Russia, Ukraine and Belarus meant that arrivals from these countries were down 50% in 2013 from the previous year. We tried hard to increase flights from other areas, and reported increases in key strategic markets such as UK (up 32%), France (12%) and Scandinavia (28%), but the Russia visa issue was a severe blow."
The efforts of Pula Airport to diversity away from the Russian and Ukrainian dependence have born early fruit, with Istria this year connected to no less than 30 destinations by air.
Scandinavia has become a strong growth area for Pula.
Scandinavia has become a strong growth area for Pula.
Airport Pula
The introduction of flights to Ireland has led to more than 30,000 arrivals from the Emerald Isle already in 2014, while the largest increase has come from Scandinavia, with more than 60% of arrivals coming from Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
According to official statistics, some 214,237 passengers used the airport in the first seven months of the year, a sharp increase on last year's comparable number of 190,344. Radmilo expects this year's numbers to top 400,000 for the first time since the conflict in former Yugoslavia, and late season events such as the Dimensions and Outlook festivals, which extend the season and attract thousands of predominantly British tourists to the region, can only help achieve that number.
While Pula's international connections are much improved too this year, the eagerly-anticipated European Coastal Airlines hydroplane service is also scheduled for take off later this month, connecting Pula with internal destinations such as Zagreb, Split, Zadar, Rab and Jelsa on Hvar.
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